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Showing posts from February, 2011

Over charged by $10? Then you need a lawyer costing $1.44M

This morning the postman dropped a letter through my door from a US attorney in the case of Sobel et al v The Hertz Corp et al, which was sent to me by my in-laws who are asking me what they should do about it.

Basically, the notice informs customers of Alamo Rent a Car that they could be entitled to compensation for a charge that was erroneously added to a number of bills between 2007 and 2009.  This is called a class action and it seems that my in-laws must actively exclude themselves from the action to avoid having anything to do with it.

According to the notice three teams of attorneys have worked tirelessly on this case for four-years and will be claiming fees that come to a little over $1.4M from the defendants.  The total compensation they have negotiated is one $10 voucher off any future car rental taken in the next 18-months per customer.

Brilliant, so for a fee of $1.4M they have negotiated a settlement worth $10 to each person in the class action; is that a proportionate f…

The yes/no game

Over the past 9-months or so it's become increasingly common for me to read police station attendance notes that say "call from officer to say ready for interview; attend station and am informed client no longer requires rep, has seen inspector and now in interview.  Returned to office."  Basically, this means that a suspect has been asked by an officer, "would you like a solicitor?" and the suspect has said, "Yes."  But at some later stage (for some reason it's usually between us being told the police are ready to interview and us arriving at the police station), the suspect changes their mind and decides to be interviewed without a solicitor.  The most remarkable instance of this was a call from Stoke Newington saying they were ready to interview.  We actually had a solicitor at the station at the front desk.  In the few minutes it took for us to contact the solicitor and him to speak to the front desk, the client had changed his mind about want…

Centralisation of legal aid

Between today and the 25th April 2011, HM Court Service/Legal Services Commission will be moving the administrative job of granting (or refusing) legal aid application away from local courts in London to Havering Mags Court.

This doesn't sound very interesting and probably that's because it isn't.  But, it is a big waste of money that is being done for very short sighted reasons.

The hope, as is the hope with everying the LSC/HMCS do, is that centralising the work will mean quicker decisions reached at a lower cost.  But, it will not work.  It will cost more than the old system.

Previously, if you as a member of the public needed legal aid you could complete a form and hand it in at the court where your case was to be heard.  This was changed slightly last year when courts were clustered so that if you had a case at Redbridge Mags, for example, you had to hand the form in at Highbury Corner, which is just up the road.

Highbury quickly became the least efficient admin centr…

MPs legal aid bill

I have just read in the paper that the cost of MPs legal aid bills were "increased substantially after they attempted to avoid criminal proceedings by claiming the ancient right of parliamentary privilege."

I am not sure how that happened since criminal legal aid for solicitors is based on the number of pages served by the prosecution and how many days the trial lasted.  Any legal submission would not have counted toward either the page count or the number of days trial.

Counsel would have received a little more money for the hearings, but I think we are talking in the region of a few hundred pounds rather than "substantial" amounts.

Student fees

I have just read in the Times that ministers are considering barring universities from charging top fees.

When I was a student and tuition fees were first introduced by Labour it was obvious to me that eventually the fees would rise well above the £1,000 cap that then existed.  When the current Tory/Liberal government increased the cap to £9,000 it was obvious to me that anyone who could get away with it would charge that fee, if not across the board then pretty damn close to it.

So, having allowed universities to charge up to £9,000 per annum, why is the government now complaining that institutions are planning to charge as much as they can?  It's a bit like saying to an MP "you have a £50,000 expenses allowance, but you must not claim all of it".  It's just not going to happen.

Real-life cinderella

I read in the Times today about the case of a real-life cindarella (because of the paywall I cannot link to the Times, so here is the Australian Telegraph's reporting of the story).

I don't know if the accusations are true or not.  But, sadly they are nothing I haven't come across a dozen times in case papers and in other newspapers in the past.

Sadly, the most unusual thing about these allegations from my experience is the lack of sexual abuse.

Everybody knows somebody who knows somebody who has had a run in with social services over their children and has thought how terrible social workers all are for intruding in their lives.  But, when people act like this towards their own children I find myself asking whether social workers shouldn't be more intrusive!

Brilliant Royal Mail

Today I am mostly thinking how amazing our postal service is.

I have received a letter from a magistrates' court that has our name mis-spelt, gives the wrong street with no building number at all, lacks any mention of the city and has no post code on it.

Yet some how Royal Mail have managed to deliver it to us within a week of its being posted!